Skal Labissiere could have been one of the estimated 200,000 or so people who died during the 2010 Haiti earthquake, but seems that God had other plans for the 7 feet tall now-nineteen star athlete. Recalling that catastrophic day, he told reporter Kent Taylor of WAVE 18 News:
« I just remember hearing people screaming and hearing my little brother jo screaming and I just remember me thinking that it was all a dream,0 d ‘ was a very scary experience. »
It was especially scaly for him because his father was outside the home when it happened, and for a while, Skal and the rest of his family didn’t know whether he was alive or dead. Meanwhile, his father had seen the house collapse from the outside, and panicked, until all members of the family were reunited.
About six months after the earthquake in Haiti, Gerald Hamilton, of Memphis Tennessee, who had been operating the non-profit Reach Your Dream, filed paperwork to get Skal to immigrate to Tennessee. Skal left his family behind, and grew alongside Hamilton’s sons. Recalling that time, Skal told a reporter:
« Nice family. Nice group of people, so I was very thankful to be limn itl them. »
So, how did he get so good on the court? Interviewed by NBC Lex 18, the University of Kentucky basketball player said it all started in Haiti.
«It was mostly outside courts. I think the whole country has three stadiums, three or four. So, everything was done outside. Grew up playing soccer outside, volleyball outside.»
Skal attended Lausanne College Prep in Memphis and at one time was also being homeschooled by Hamilton. It was during this period, that his defense and shot blocking skills got to a new level. He told sports writer Larry Vaught this year:
« My high school coach did a good job of showing me fundamentals and what to do and what not to do. I had good people around me to work with me. »
s As a star basketball player for U of K, Skal knows that he’s seen as a role model. He told NBC Lex 18: « When we are here as basketball players at Kentucky, we definitely have to watch our every move because people are constantly watching us all the time so we have to live by example and act the right way. »
Sports pundits are calling him basketball’s next big thing. Right now, Skal continues to count his blessings. All eyes are on him. ESPN critic Eamonn Brennan placed him on his prestigious College Hoops Most Interesting People list. But from his interviews, it’s apparent that he’s trying his best to maintain his skills, while staying humble. During the aforementioned conversation with Vaught, he admitted:
« I know I have to work on being more physical. I am still trying to get stronger…I still have to work on my defense, and block my shots and rebound better. Have a better motor running the floor, and I know I can do that. »